“Veg•e•tating” Thunder Bay!
Kaministiquia is home to one of the market’s many valuable produce vendors, providing an assortment of colourful, fresh products throughout the year. This week’s feature market vendor gets up close into the gardens of veg•e•tate market garden, where we talk with owners Justin and Caitlin on how they’ve come to provide Thunder Bay with such a vast selection of market-fresh veggies and fruits!
Though neither have a background in horticulture, their passion for the subject developed in 2009 after the creation of their first home garden. During that year, Justin developed an interest in passive solar greenhouses and year-round cultivation, which built the foundation of their business. After much research and planning, they began their small operation in Kaministiquia in 2010, joining our market vendor lineup in August of that same year. Two years later, they became full-time employees of their business, no longer dependant on outside income.
Focusing on small-scale, intensive horticulture, the pair has expanded their business to include various forms of protected cultivation, including a greenhouse, hoophouses and cold frames. Currently operating on less than one acre, their market garden houses a variety of crops, with a special focus on cool weather vegetables such as head lettuce, kale, carrots and radishes. Their salad crops have become a very popular product at the market, including their baby green mixes (try their “Market Mix!”). Rather than purchasing pre-made seed mixes, Justin and Caitlin have trialed a variety of seeds, looking for the best flavours and textures, in order to create their own signature mixes. They love looking for new produce varieties to introduce to the market, and so, they are very open to listening to product suggestions from their customers. “We love hearing recommendations from our market patrons–they know what they want and we strive to provide it for them.” In fact, through customer suggestions, veg•e•tate market garden began growing shoots, microgreens and wheat grass, which they now produce throughout all four seasons.
Justin and Caitlin’s passion for growing fruits and vegetables has blossomed veg•e•tate market garden into a full-time opportunity for them. They admit very easily that they have a great support network within the
community, which has helped their business grow over the years. Veg•e•tate market garden can currently be found at the market on Saturday mornings, and come Wednesdays in June, at our seasonal evening markets, and at the TBRHSC’s “Fresh Market” in the afternoons. Thanks to the recent warm weather, starting this weekend, they will move from inside the market, to the front of the Dove building. Just look for their white tent! Follow their growth on their Facebook page, or signup to be part of their harvest email group (email@example.com). You’ll receive weekly harvest updates on what they have available, as well as other market news.
Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will be available during the upcoming growing season. Veg•e•tate market garden looks forward to providing our city with a beautiful selection of colourful produce!